John Howard has earned is reputation as the come back kid of politics. At the last two elections the final vote for his Coalition government was more than 5 percentage points higher on election day than the polls indicated it would be six months before. Those achievements were even more spectacular than Paul Keating’s come from behind victory in 1993 when the six months saw Labor pick up from the forecast 40% vote to the actual 44.8%.
But there is certainly one thing about which the Prime Minister has recently been telling the absolute truth. His task between now and the election due towards the end of the year is even harder than in 2001 and 2004.
The table below compares election results with the vote forecast by Newspoll six months before election day.
To retain office the Coalition probably needs a primary vote around the 43% mark. That will take a gain between now and then of eight percentage points.
It is perhaps not an impossible task but it is bigger than any party has managed at the last seven elections for which I have opinion poll figures. A betting man would be sorely tempted to take the current price on offer about a Kevin Rudd victory.